DREW CO., Ark. (KTHV) - A Drew County Sheriff's deputy is dead after a fatal wreck during a pursuit early Thursday morning. Now, the suspect he was pursuing is facing murder charges.
Deputy Tim Braden was involved in a pursuit just outside of Monticello when the wreck occurred. Around 1:30 Thursday morning, Deputy Tim Braden was trying to pull 24-year-old Samuel Vincent over, when he led the 29-year-old deputy on a chase down a dark and curvy Barkada Road.
While the Drew County Sheriff's Office may be a small department, Deputy Tim Braden made a big impact.
“He had a knack for it. He loved the job. His mother told me when he was a young boy, he always played cops and robbers. He was always the cop. So, I think it was just sewn into him," said Sheriff Mark Gober.
Gober said while the shock of losing one of his deputies hasn’t faded, it came as no surprise that Deputy Braden pursued someone who fled a traffic stop if he “had a hunch."
"That’s Braden. He’s a little pit bull. He’s going to go after them. He made the decision to pursue and I stand behind that decision,” said the sheriff.
Gober told THV11 Braden chased the suspect down a hill when Vincent tossed something, they believe to be drugs, out of his car, lost control of the vehicle, and crashed. As Braden came around the curve, he couldn’t stop fast enough to avoid both the other car and the trees.
Braden had been with the Drew County Sheriff's Department for less than a year. Before that, he served more than three years with the McGehee Police Department. Braden leaves behind his wife and four children. He is the fourth law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty this year in Arkansas.
“It’s been happening all over the United States. It just hit closer to home this time," said Gober.
According to the Arkansas State Police, 24-year-old Samuel Vincent was arrested after the crash and is currently in custody.
Prosecuting attorney Thomas Deen said that Vincent will be charged with first-degree murder in relation to the crash and death of Braden. He is also being charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, and felony fleeing.
Several police agencies and legislators have released statements on the passing of Braden.
Governor Asa Hutchinson:
“It is always a difficult day when I hear of the loss of one of Arkansas’ finest. I am deeply saddened to learn that Deputy Timothy Braden was killed in the line of duty early this morning. Deputy Braden’s life was cut short in service to the people of our state. My prayers and gratitude are with Deputy Braden’s family and with the law enforcement community for their selfless commitment to serve and protect the people of our state, even in times of danger.”
Lt. Governor Tim Griffin:
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Sheriff’s Deputy Timothy Braden during this terribly difficult time. This tragedy is a sobering reminder of the risks our law enforcement officers face each and every day as they strive to make our communities safer. My heart also goes out to the Drew County Sheriff's Department as they grieve the loss of one of their own."
Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas Attorney General:
“Deputy Braden never backed down when faced with a dangerous situation to protect the citizens of Drew County,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “On behalf of the law enforcement community in our state – which has now lost four officers in the line of duty this year – I extend my thoughts and prayers to Deputy Braden’s young family, including his wife and four children, his dear friends and the people of Drew County. While today marks the end of watch for Deputy Braden, I know he will continue to watch over us all.”
An investigation of the fatal crash is being conducted by the Arkansas State Police. Deputy Braden’s visitation will be held Saturday, August 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Griffith Funeral Services in Star City. His funeral will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, August 27 in the auditorium of Star City High School.